Lead Transport into Bayou Trepagnier Wetlands in Louisiana, USA
Establishment of a petroleum refinery in 1916 near the headwaters of Bayou Trepagnier with subsequent dredging of the bayou resulted in spoil banks containing high levels of Pb. A large swamp abuts the eastern bank of the bayou. Cores were taken from 15 baldcypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) Richard] trees growing in the swamp along a 610-m transect (nine trees) and a 183-m transect (six trees) running perpendicular from the spoil bank. The cores were crossdated, annual rings were measured, and 5-yr segments of the cores were prepared and analyzed for heavy metals. Soil samples were collected along one transect and analyzed for metals. Levels of Pb in Bayou Trepagnier swamp trees were compared to levels in nine baldcypress trees growing along Stinking Bayou, a reference area. During the last 100 yr, Pb in growth rings of swamp baldcypress trees averaged 8.6 mg/kg (SD 4.88) along one transect and 7.9 mg/kg (SD 5.39) along the other. Lead in the soil along the first transect dropped from .2700 mg/kg (spoil bank) to 10mg/kg at 420 m into the swamp. Baldcypress trees growing near the refinery on the spoil bank along Bayou Trepagnier (covered in an earlier study) averaged 4.5 mg/kg Pb, and trees along Stinking Bayou averaged 2.1mg/kg. Trees in the swamp soil with 10 to 425 mg/kg Pb concentrated much more Pb than trees growing on the heavily polluted bank. Greater uptake of Pb by trees in the swamp is discussed in terms of soil dynamics and Pb sources.